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Smith: Govt takes too long on Treaty

Thursday, 4 August 2005

Smith: Govt takes too long on Treaty

Labour's deadline for lodging historical Treaty of Waitangi claims is longer than needed and United Future's proposal of a two-year deadline is more than enough, the party's Maori affairs spokesman, Murray Smith, said today.

Mr Smith said that Maori claimants have had 30 years to file claims - a simple process - and that he is unaware of any historical claims against the Crown that are still in the course of being filed.

"In recent years new historical claims have generally been between hapu groups rather than between Maori and the Crown," he said.

"Accordingly a two-year deadline as suggested by United Future is more than reasonable and Labour's three-year timeframe is just unnecessarily dragging out a matter that New Zealand needs to see finalised."

Mr Smith also considers that Labour's refusal to look to a deadline short of 15 years for settling all claims was again unnecessarily prolonging the process.

"United Future has persistently pushed the Government to set itself a deadline and provide the funding to meet it. We got the Government to put significantly more resources into the settlement process, including the setting up of a second Claims Development Team in 2004," he said.

Mr Smith also said that the statement contradicted a promise made on 14 May 2003 by then Treaty Minister, Margaret Wilson, in answer to questions he raised in Parliament that the Government would make its best endeavours to meet a target date of 2015 by which to have 90% of historical treaty claims fully settled.

The key issue, Mr Smith said, is that New Zealand needs to get the historical settlement process out of the way as soon as possible so that we can move on as a nation.

United Future has committed itself to a goal of 2010 for the settlement of historical grievances, and to resource the claims process to ensure that this becomes a reality.

ENDS


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